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Khamzat Chimaev expects to face Robert Whittaker next after Paulo Costa ‘ran away’

Khamzat Chimaev might be off to Middleweight for his next time out.

The No. 3-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight contender has shown versatility between weight classes during his meteoric rise. Unfortunately for Chimaev, he was too versatile for his last appearance, missing weight by a ridiculous 7.5 pounds for a scheduled showdown versus Nate Diaz.

“Borz” instead went on to dominate Kevin Holland en route to a d’arce choke submission win in little more than two minutes (watch highlights) at UFC 279. He now believes a big-time 185-pound clash with the division’s former champion looms.

“I think I will fight Robert Whittaker,” Chimaev told Red Corner MMA. “He’s got no opponent. Paulo Costa ran away after talking that much about me and Robert. So, I will fight Whittaker. I want this fight although I like him as a human being. He is a solid guy, doesn’t talk trash, doesn’t cross any lines.

“We are going to have fun at the press conference and fight each other,” he concluded.

Whittaker was supposed to be in action this weekend (Sat., Feb. 11, 2023) at UFC 284 against Paulo Costa. Things went south, however, after contract negotiations on Costa’s end led to the bout dissolving.

Chimaev has fought twice at Middleweight inside the Octagon, first dismantling John Phillips in his debut before a 16-second knockout of Gerald Meerschaert (watch highlights). Whittaker would undeniably make for Chimaev’s toughest test to date whether at 170 or 185 pounds. The Sweden resident has grappled against a top Middleweight contender, Jack Hermansson, before (watch highlights), but never competed against one in mixed martial arts (MMA).

With the upcoming Welterweight title trilogy between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman going down at UFC 286 on March 18, 2023, Chimaev still sees it as a possibility to challenge for that title, too.

“Whoever takes it will face me,” Chimaev said of Edwards versus Usman 3. “I think it’s going to be another close fight. Let’s see if Leon will be able to take Kamaru out once again. To be honest, I expected Usman to retire after getting knocked out like that.”


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